Business Record, by Megan Verhelst
Owner, WineStyles Tasting Station national franchise
After years of moving from place to place with Maytag Corp., Bryan McGinness and his wife, Andrea, decided it was time to stay in their home state of Iowa. In 2006, the Clive couple also decided to turn a personal passion into a business. The result was WineStyles – now WineStyles Tasting Station – in West Des Moines’ West Glen Town Center. In the past year, the couple took their business venture to the next level, by purchasing and rebranding the national WineStyles franchising company.
What was the inspiration behind opening a wine store?
Andrea McGinness: When Maytag wanted to move us to Michigan, we decided we were done moving. Bryan has always wanted to own a wine store… We first came across a WineStyles store in Minneapolis. Bryan visited a store and when we got home, we looked into it. Before we knew it, we had picked our spot in West Des Moines and opened the store.
Bryan McGinness: I’ve always been a food and wine guy. I’ve had a wine collection for years and I’m the chef in the house. I really wanted to be a restaurateur, but I didn’t want the hours. That’s why this appealed to me. Here, we have food, wine, beer, chocolates and all the gourmet things that go with a restaurant without the late hours.
How did the opportunity arise to purchase the entire franchising company?
A.M.: A year ago last April, the company was based out of Florida. The gentleman who owned it called and said he wanted to come to Iowa. He came and told us he wanted to retire, but he wanted us to take over the company. We were speechless. My first thought was I didn’t want to move to Florida, but then he proposed we move the franchise headquarters to Iowa. He said his choice to have us run it was a combination of a lot of things – good Midwestern values, location, and the fact we helped open two other stores in Iowa. We believe in the system, so we figured, why not take the risk?
Why did you decide to buy the entire franchise?
B.M.: We’ve always been pioneers of taking risks in business. We knew a wine shop would not survive on its own because you can buy wine anywhere. Our goal is to demystify that whole wine buying experience. WineStyles is the first to pioneer the idea of tasting wine by style instead of variety or region. We break our store up by that, and we also added wine by the glass before anyone, as well as beer on tap and cheese plates.
What’s the difference between the WineStyles store you first opened and WineStyles Tasting Station now?
B.M.: It has evolved into tasting stations where people can learn and taste and enjoy wine in addition to other products.
A.M.: The old owner had started the process with input from many franchisees across the country. They were dabbling in the sale of other products, and we took that feedback to map out the change. Once we took over, it became our job to implement it. Things evolved naturally, with suggestions from our customers as well. Wine is still the core of our business, but it grew into other products that pair well with it.
Why did you take the company in that direction?
B.M.: Take a look at any company out there. If you don’t continue to reinvent yourself, think outside the box or find ways to evolve and grow, your business will die. We knew there were other areas we could expand in, and we wanted to continue to refresh our business.
A.M.: At this point, only a few stores do all the tasting stations. Existing stores will make that transition, and any new stores will be like ours in West Glen.
What’s a day like in this business?
B.M.: Being a small franchiser, we wear a lot of hats. My main goal is to rebuild the brand and add stores. Andrea works more on the operational side and evolving the company into new platforms such as our website and e-commerce.
A.M.: We purposely kept our office in the store. … We have long hours, but we’re very involved in all of the business.
What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
A.M.: Our main goal is to be parents. We love to travel. I love to read, and Bryan enjoys cooking.
How has this been a worthwhile experience for both of you, before and now?
A.M.: I remember a night we got home late. It was 10, but we were still smiling. That’s what it’s about. When you love what you do, and when it’s yours, it’s just different.